This article is a contribution to a four-week blog series celebrating 30 years of USAID’s John Ogonowski and Doug Bereuter Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) Program.
Like capacity development, citizen diplomacy is at the heart of the Farmer-to-Farmer program. To quote former USAID Administrator Andrew Natsios, in a speech made while presenting the Presidential Call to Service Award to eleven volunteers on May 18, 2004,
Volunteerism is an important part of America's response to problems in the developing world. From the Peace Corps to today's Farmer-to-Farmer programs, American volunteers have been making a difference in these countries for 50 years.
The people-to-people nature of the Farmer-to-Farmer Program is one of its principal assets. Over the years, thousands of dedicated U.S. citizen volunteers have had rewarding experiences in international development activities. These successes have been met with increased expectations as the needs of developing states have become better understood and have grown more acute. Organizations that run international volunteer programs are responsible for not simply doing good works, but making sure that they efficiently and effectively achieve positive impacts for clients.
Volunteerism has deep roots in the U.S. In 1953, the International Cooperation Agency (ICA), a predecessor agency to USAID, facilitated establishment of International Voluntary Services to bring citizen volunteer resources to the newly energized international development efforts. The success of this effort led directly to formation of the Peace Corps.
Citizen volunteers bring important resources to development efforts, with the direct citizen diplomacy inherent in volunteer interactions with counterparts presenting an “American face” to foreign assistance efforts. The continuing commitment to volunteerism is evident in USAID requirement to consider use of volunteers in any major Presidential Initiative programs.
While all USAID programs are “From the American People”, only Farmer-to-Farmer delivers the American people themselves.
- Gary Alex & Erin Baize
From November 16-December 11, Farmer-to-Farmer program partners are sharing their knowledge and experience providing technical assistance to farmers, farm groups, agribusinesses, service providers, and other agriculture sector institutions in developing and transitional countries. As aligned with Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative, Farmer-to-Farmer works to support inclusive agriculture sector growth, facilitate private sector engagement in the agriculture sector, enhance development of local capacity and promote climate-smart development. Volunteer assignments address host-led priorities to expand economic growth that increases incomes and improves access to nutritious food. This blog series aims to capture and share this program experience.
Read more articles celebrating 30 years of F2F on Agrilinks (http://agrilinks.org/blog/farmer2farmer).